…commends midwives as ‘game-changers’ for the Sustainable Development Goals
HE Mrs Toyin Saraki addressing the American College of Nurse-Midwives in Washington D.C at the 60th Annual Meeting
Opening the 60th Annual Meeting of the American College of Nurse-Midwives in Washington D.C, Her Excellency Mrs Toyin Saraki praised midwives as ‘game-changers’ in health and international development, calling for midwifery to be central to tackling social determinants of health in the post-2015 development era.
Delivering a speech titled ‘‘The Midwife as a Game Changer ‘ – Why Midwives Must be At the Heart of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals” in her role as Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), she spoke of how each day, 145 Nigerian women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth and approximately 2300 Nigeria children die before reaching their fifth birthday – this is approximately 6 women per hour, and 95 children per hour (UNICEF).
In her keynote address, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s Founder-President, Mrs Saraki emphasised the critical importance of midwives in overcoming social determinants of maternal and child health – not just in Nigeria, but across the globe – pointing to statistics that found that Washington D.C. suffered the highest infant mortality rate amongst major U.S. cities, with an increased risk of death of ten times more amongst children living in poverty compared to children in the richest part of the city (Save the Children).
Describing the long history of midwifery and how midwives have the skills, training and knowledge to provide expert advice to pregnant women, both during and after pregnancy, she called for midwives to view themselves as ‘agents of change for the SDGs’. Referring to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals due to come into effect at the end of 2015, Toyin Saraki outlined the challenges facing midwives today and how WBFA has sought to overcome these to enable midwives to take their rightful place as game-changers in health.
She outlined how WBFA’s flagship programme, the Personal Health Record (PHR) has revolutionised patient data and records in Nigeria for midwives and other healthcare professionals, in line with accountability recommendations from the World Bank, World Health Organisation, and USAID. Introducing the new WBFA Maternity Notes, Mrs Saraki spoke of the importance of resources and records in overcoming social determinants of health, pledging support for more resources for midwives in the form of Safe Delivery ‘MamaKits’, and for more skilled midwives in the form of training programmes like the WBFA partnership with Johnson and Johnson and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) to train healthcare professionals in emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) skills.
Further to this, she spoke of WBFA’s inclusive financing mechanisms for affordable health insurance, the Alaafia Universal Health Coverage Fund (AUHCF) that tackles a major social determinant of health and results in a more motivated workforce, thus improving quality of care and retention of skilled midwives.
WBFA has had a long-standing relationship with midwives since beginning its work in 2004. This relationship was cemented in 2014 when Her Excellency Toyin Saraki was invited to become the inaugural Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM). Concluding her speech today, Mrs Saraki called for “more healthcare professionals with midwifery skills, in the right place, at the right time, with the right education, the right support and the right pay” in line with the ICM’s recommendations and goals.